I remember an old line from the West Wing, when Pres. Jed Bartlett faced off against a retiring Justice who snarled: 'Americans like guts, and Republicans have got 'em.' In the last year, both sides have lived up to their stereotypes. The Republicans, despite a potentially crippling majority, have dominated the debate and used every political flim-flam imaginable to disrupt the Democratic agenda. The Democrats, seemingly feeling guilty for having dared a convincing win, have floundered with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Pres. Obama, a three-horse team attempting to hold back an out of control locomotive.
In the wake of his healthcare reform victory, Pres. Obama appears to have finally understood that his softly-softly approach, while laudable, was beginning to set up both the Democrats and himself for major losses come November. Without sinking to the level of sending dead fish to his critics like Rahm Emanuel, Obama has transformed into the tough guy he had shown glimpses of by the past but had never confirmed.
Since Sunday's vote, his administration has helped see off nit-picking criticisms from the Republicans in the Senate, brokered a new nuclear arms reduction deal with Russia, improved the terms of 'don't ask, don't tell', and sent Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyahu rightfully packing after his new disruption of the peace talks last week. Boy, did Obama eat his vitamins this week.
So sudden has this change both the press and Congress have appeared caught out. It was two weeks ago that Howard Fineman in Newsweek explained that the press was now bored with Obama, 'that he may be ineffectual; that he doesn't know how to play the game; that he can't get anything done.' Disingenuous to the last, the NY Post calls Wednesday, when Netanyahu was at the White House and the nuclear deal was announced, 'the worst day for US diplomacy in recent memory.'
If the Washington Times chooses to see evil and betrayal in a deal significantly reducing the number of nuclear weapons in this world, far from me to criticise, but for liberals generally glum about the state of the world, this has been one of the greatest weeks in recent memory. Obama has behaved like a true leader, putting aside electoral fears, and doing right for the American people and for the world. And for all the agitators crying doom for the Democrats come November, polling numbers for Obama have begun picking up this week, and even his more negative numbers are well above Republican equivalents.
Critics have labeled this the death of bipartisanship, pointing to Obama's raucous speech in Iowa in which he mocked the Republicans for comparing the passing of healthcare reform to Armageddon. The largest hypocrisy believed in the Tea Party masses is to have conveniently forgotten how Reagan or George W. Bush never even attempted compromise, using their majorities to pass their agendas with little care for opposition, voiced in Congress or shouted on the streets.
May the Democrats never forget what Obama has finally remembered: a majority is a mandate to rule, to compromise if possible, but to rule nonetheless. And after Obama leaves the White House, perhaps can we say 'Americans like guts, and Democrats have got 'em. With brains too.'